Winter in Chicago: It can be cold and snowy, but there’s no need to stop doing the things you love just because of the season. You may choose to spend these months getting involved in service work, meeting up with old and new friends, and pursuing or rekindling your favorite hobby.
Learn more about mental health during the winter, and get ideas for activities to try that will help you feel your best this season.
Is it the Winter Blues or SAD?
It’s not unusual to feel a bit down after the rush of the holidays passes and there’s little to do. And it’s hard to ignore the instinctive feeling of wanting to stay indoors on a cold winter’s night. So are you feeling just the winter blues, or something else?
The winter blues, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. If you have the winter blues, you might feel occasional sadness or tiredness during the wintertime, but it goes away on its own and doesn’t interfere with other parts of your life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is different. It’s a form of depression caused by the shorter daylight hours. If left alone, it usually goes away once longer days return.
As you might suspect, SAD is more common in geographic locations that receive less light during the winter. Chicago is one of these locations. If you’re concerned that you have SAD, talk to your doctor. It’s a common diagnosis and one that can be treated with a few simple changes.
You may also enjoy: Volunteering at Lake Forest Place >>
Staying Well in the Wintertime
Even if you don’t have SAD, staying active and involved - and taking care of yourself -can greatly improve your mood during the winter. Try a few of the suggestions in this list to get started.
1. Meeting Up With Friends
Interacting with others is a surprising way you can improve your mood and overall health. People with regular social interaction may even live longer and have a lower risk of dementia.
Staying connected with friends, family, and neighbors can be as simple as making a quick phone call or taking the time to chat on the sidewalk. And new friends can be found at your place of worship, a local community center, through volunteering, and more.
2. Getting Plenty of Sleep
Sleep doesn’t just help us feel rested; while we slumber, our bodies are still working on internal processes. It’s also key for allowing our brains time to repair themselves.
Adults need seven to eight hours each night to reap the full benefits. If you’re not getting that much, you could try a few changes to your routine. Avoiding electronic screens one hour before bed, or making sure to go to bed and get up at the same times each day, can help.
3. Exercising and Eating Healthy Foods
If you’re not big on exercising, it might sound counterintuitive - but staying active can be a great source of energy and can boost your mood. Getting 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, like brisk walking, will go a long way toward helping you feel your best.
To fuel your body so you can get your exercise, it’s important to eat a balanced diet. Although winter’s seasonal offerings might not seem as exciting as summer’s, there’s plenty to enjoy if you know where to look. Brussels sprouts, squash, citrus fruits, and kale are all at their peak during these months.
4. Going Outdoors
Because a lack of exposure to sunlight is one of the key factors in SAD, getting outside - even on chilly days - can help. A quick walk around the block in the morning and evening will do, and the cold weather might help refresh you, too.
If you’re feeling the effects of cabin fever, getting outside and feeling some fresh air could do you some good.
5. Learning Something New
You may not be able to go out and about as often during the winter, so while you’re indoors, why not use your time to pick up a new skill or rekindle an old one?
Whether you decide to tackle a recipe for a chocolate souffle, watch an online video on knitting, or join a birdwatching group, you’ll keep your mind engaged and give yourself something enjoyable to look forward to.
Related story: 10 things perfect for older adults to do in Lake Forest >>
What’s There to Do at Lake Forest Place?
At Lake Forest Place, one of the highest-regarded senior living communities on Chicago’s North Shore, there’s always plenty to do to stay active.
“The programs are many and varied - I love all the different activities one can get involved in here,” said resident Mary Knight. “There are lots of things that a person can do to fill his or her hours here at Lake Forest Place.”
Another resident, Jery Hendron, stays involved in multiple activities, including volunteer work and the campus poetry-reading group.
“I’m finding that I actually like it. And if I don’t have anything to bring to the group that day, I do go away with a couple of nuggets because people are just so knowledgeable,” she said.
You’re Invited to Schedule a Tour
If you’re interested in living in a community where you can spend your days exactly as you please, Lake Forest Place could be right for you.
Our luxurious campus offers independent living apartments and cottages in a vibrant community. You’ll always have something to do, someone to meet, or something to learn here.
Feel free to request a tour to learn more about Lake Forest Place. We will schedule a time at your convenience and help you get a taste of life at our upscale community.